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Old 04-19-11, 09:51 PM   #1
nelson4568
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carbon vs steel weight

i have a question about carbon and steel bike weights, lets say you have a carbon and steel bike that both weigh exactly 20 pounds, which will be easier to get up a hill, it may sound like a dumb question but from riding steel it can sometimes be a little bit challenging getting up all the hills in my area so i was looking into the market of carbon, just out of curiosity, thanks
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Old 04-19-11, 10:20 PM   #2
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Weight is weight. The difference is going to be stiffness of the frame. If both are stiff, then it's not going to make a bit of difference what the frame is made out of. I have both a steel (Bianchi EV Boron) and a carbon (Masi 3VC) frame bikes and don't notice a bit of difference in either. Both are quite stiff and light. Usually the price of carbon is better than a comparable weight steel frame. Light weight steel is expensive. Carbon doesn't have to be.
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Old 04-19-11, 10:27 PM   #3
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I agree with knobster that if the stiffness and weight are the same then it shouldn't matter. Of course it'll be harder to make a steel bike as light and stiff as a carbon one, but except for those who are racing at a level where small differences are important, the slight weight penalty of steel (or other materials like Al or Ti) compared to carbon fiber isn't likely to be significant. And I notice lots of riders on light carbon bikes who also find it challenging to get up the local hills - frequently due to the weight of the engine which is far more significant than that of the frame.
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Old 04-19-11, 10:36 PM   #4
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There is no way to make an informative answer to that question. You could use great components and wheels on a steel bike and it would be about 20 pounds. For a CF bike stock wheels and entry level components would put you at about 20 pounds. In my experience a bike with quality wheels between 1300 and 1600 grams will climb better than the same bike with 2000 to 2200 gram stock wheels. If you consider climbing faster better. Or at least it will seem to climb better. IMHO
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Old 04-19-11, 10:45 PM   #5
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The CF bike will be the superior climber.
Even if the CF bike weighs more than the steel one, the magical properties of CF will always cause it to outperform any other material.
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Old 04-19-11, 11:15 PM   #6
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The CF bike will be the superior climber.
Even if the CF bike weighs more than the steel one, the magical properties of CF will always cause it to outperform any other material.
Not to mention that the more you spend, the better rider you become.
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Old 04-19-11, 11:31 PM   #7
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Not to mention that the more you spend, the better rider you become.
and the better rider you become, the lonelier you get. Slow down, enjoy the scenery, save your money.
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Old 04-20-11, 03:52 AM   #8
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Shouldn't make any difference, assuming all other parameters are equal. In any case, the biggest difference is the rider- I sometimes pass cyclists on expensive racing bikes uphill, riding my old, heavy 3-speed laden down with books, apparently much to their annoyance. I'm not particularly fit or strong either.
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Old 04-20-11, 05:22 AM   #9
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The CF bike will be the superior climber.
Even if the CF bike weighs more than the steel one, the magical properties of CF will always cause it to outperform any other material.
Unless the steel bike is red, and the CF bike is not. Then the awesomeness of red will prevail.
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Old 04-20-11, 08:10 AM   #10
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if they both weigh the same, then you look at other factors:

the carbon bike might be stiffer, so it'll be more efficient getting your effort to the wheels.
the carbon bike might be more aerodynamic, but whether that helps will depend on how fast you're going in the first place.
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Old 04-20-11, 09:22 AM   #11
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nelson4568, It depends where the 20 lb. weight is in your example. A carbon frame that can be built into a 15 lb. bike, but equipped with an ultra heavy wheelset will be more difficult due to rotational resistance than a steel frame with an ultra light wheelset.

Hills, and headwinds, are by nature challenging. Rider fitness and good gearing help.

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Old 04-20-11, 01:13 PM   #12
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The steel bike will be slowed by the earth's natural magnetic force, but the carbon bike is immune. So the carbon bike will be faster, unless you're travelling north. Steel bikes are slowest going south, against the magnetic pull.
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Old 04-20-11, 02:18 PM   #13
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You need a smaller planet with less gravity,
but unfortunately it will not retain the same atmosphere..
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Old 04-20-11, 03:00 PM   #14
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Titanium defies gravity.
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Old 04-25-11, 02:03 AM   #15
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if they both weigh the same, then you look at other factors:

the carbon bike might be stiffer, so it'll be more efficient getting your effort to the wheels.
the carbon bike might be more aerodynamic, but whether that helps will depend on how fast you're going in the first place.
If you have two riders that have exactly the same physical conditioning, and you put one on a steel bike and the other on a carbon fiber bike racing up hill, the one that wants it the most will always win.
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Old 04-25-11, 12:42 PM   #16
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I'm trying to detangle my brain from its paroxysm of disbelief about the fact that this question was even asked.

Seriously, my brain hurts.

If you ever take a cruise somewhere, make certain that the ship's captain knows not to go too far, lest the entire boat fall off...
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Old 04-25-11, 01:28 PM   #17
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I'm trying to detangle my brain from its paroxysm of disbelief about the fact that this question was even asked.

Seriously, my brain hurts.

If you ever take a cruise somewhere, make certain that the ship's captain knows not to go too far, lest the entire boat fall off...
You must be new here.
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Old 04-25-11, 01:32 PM   #18
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I'm trying to detangle my brain from its paroxysm of disbelief about the fact that this question was even asked.
Seriously, my brain hurts.
If you ever take a cruise somewhere, make certain that the ship's captain knows not to go too far, lest the entire boat fall off...
what hurts my brain is how forum members with thousands of posts will go out of their way to mock a new guy, as if you were born knowing everything there was to know about cycling.
if the question is misguided, you could answer it. if it annoys you, you could do something better than post crappy smart-ass replies.

he didn't say "if both weigh 20 pounds, which is heavier?"
he said "if both weigh 20 pounds, which will be easier to get up a hill?"
which obviously means "are there characteristics about the different materials that would make a difference in climbing?"

stiffness and aerodynamics are two of those. if you're on a flexy frame, it will be comparatively harder to get it up a hill, even if the difference is slight.
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Old 04-25-11, 01:37 PM   #19
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Now you guys got me wondering if I should replace the wheels on my bike one day. I have Alex R500 Doublewall Aero rims at 32h, and ... looking around Google, everyone says they're crap, after about 1000 miles they start breaking spokes, the wheels don't hold up and need to be "re-trued," etc.

I actually want low-maintenance wheels. The city is not friendly, there is a lot of bang-bang-bang.

I'll ask when it becomes relevant though.

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what hurts my brain is how forum members with thousands of posts will go out of their way to mock a new guy, as if you were born knowing everything there was to know about cycling.
if the question is misguided, you could answer it. if it annoys you, you could do something better than post crappy smart-ass replies.
Topic-specific forums draw elitists. I've been noticing the "us versus them" mentality around here a lot, especially re motorists.

I don't care, I just need info.
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Old 04-25-11, 01:57 PM   #20
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stiffness and aerodynamics are two of those. if you're on a flexy frame, it will be comparatively harder to get it up a hill, even if the difference is slight.
When talking about stiffness, the material is only part of the equation.
You will never find steel, Al, and CF frames all made with the same tubing dimensions and wall thicknesses.
You can make a stiff frame, or a flexy frame from *any* material, just by varying dimensions.

Therefore asking how two frames compare, just based on material, is meaningless.
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Old 04-25-11, 02:09 PM   #21
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When talking about stiffness, the material is only part of the equation.
You will never find steel, Al, and CF frames all made with the same tubing dimensions and wall thicknesses.
You can make a stiff frame, or a flexy frame from *any* material, just by varying dimensions.

Therefore asking how two frames compare, just based on material, is meaningless.
see, was that so hard?
maybe the OP will see that and actually learn something.
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Old 04-25-11, 09:24 PM   #22
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1 ton of feathers -vs- 1 ton of bricks

Which is heavier?
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Old 04-26-11, 04:20 AM   #23
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One ounce of carbon (measured as avoirdupois weight) is lighter than one ounce of steel (measured as troy weight), but one pound of carbon is heavier than one pound of steel (a pound is 12 ounces in troy weight).
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Old 04-26-11, 10:29 AM   #24
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All things being equal, they will be.
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Old 04-27-11, 08:45 AM   #25
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1 ton of feathers -vs- 1 ton of bricks

Which is heavier?
If you had a bike made out of feathers, it would probably be lighter. Why? Because birds have feathers, and birds can fly. You've never seen a bird made out of bricks, have you? Birds are lighter than the amount of airspace they occupy, which is why they can fly.
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